Diameter: 41.500 cm
ME OA 1923.2-17.1
Room 34: The Islamic world
Stone-paste laqabi dish, decorated with a harpy
12th century AD
Laqabi ceramics are decorated with an incised pattern under different coloured glazes. First the design or picture is cut into the soft unfired ceramic. After the first firing, different colours of glaze are added over the design: in this case the harpy herself, the curling vegetation behind, and the framing rim of the dish. A transparent glaze covers the remaining blank space. The incised lines of the pattern were intended to stop the glazes from running into different areas, but were only slightly successful, as the name laqabi suggests, from the Persian for waterstained.
Ceramic vessels were a cheaper alternative to decorated metal tableware. Indeed, they often imitate the details of repoussé work, metal inlay, and also the forms of popular luxury metal items. Here, both the shape of the bowl and the incised lines around the rim may derive from metalwork.
E. Atil, Ceramics from the world of Isl (Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., 1973)
E. J. Grube and others, Cobalt and lustre: the first c (London, Nour Foundation, 1994)